Tag Archive | "LGBTQ"

Expert Helps UM Shape Its LGBTQ Future

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Expert Helps UM Shape Its LGBTQ Future


By Meredith Camel
UM News

Sanlo

Ronni Sanlo

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 18, 2016) – In 1979, two years after celebrity spokesperson Anita Bryant waged a campaign that contributed to the passage of anti-gay parenting laws in Florida, Miami native Ronni Sanlo lost custody of, and subsequently all contact with, her two young children as a result of these laws. She would spend the next 35-plus years channeling her pain and anger into her work as a civil rights activist, higher education scholar, and national authority on what it takes to provide LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) college students with the resources they need to feel safe, included, and valued in their campus community.

To help the University of Miami sculpt the vision for its forthcoming LGBTQ center, the Division of Student Affairs brought Sanlo to UM’s Coral Gables campus February 17-18  to lead strategic  planning sessions with faculty, staff, students, and alumni who volunteered their ideas.

Sanlo, a former HIV epidemiologist who served as director of the LGBT center at the University of Michigan and at UCLA, where she also was senior associate dean of students and director of the Master of Education in Student Affairs program, is perhaps best known as the founder of Lavender Graduation. Last year the University of Miami held its first Lavender Graduation, an event hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide host annually to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of their graduating LGBTQ and ally students.

As part of UM President Julio Frenk’s core initiative to foster a “culture of belonging” for all students, the University this year will hire a staff member and create a center dedicated to supporting students of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.

In her first workshop, which included about 40 participants, Sanlo guided teams through a series of brainstorming sessions on the goals, vision, and mission of the center, followed by a voting process that systematically identified the most meaningful statements. The second-day session enabled a smaller group of administrators and key participants to further refine the direction.

“I believe in casting the widest net,” Sanlo told the first group. “For all of you who are here, your voices are part of the foundation of this work.”

Sanlo encouraged the groups to think about the LGBTQ space on campus as a place for open, honest, respectful discourse on gender and sexuality and their intersections with topics such as race, religion, politics, and community.

“What you’re not creating is the campus closet,” she said. “The services that ultimately will be provided are far more broad than just a tiny spot on campus. As director of LGBT centers, I had to make sure they were safe and welcoming for those who share my political leanings as well as those who do not.”

In the evening of February 17, the Cosford Cinema screened Andrea Meyerson’s film Letter to Anita, followed by a Q&A session with Sanlo. Narrated by actress Meredith Baxter, the film is based on a letter to Anita Bryant that Sanlo wrote and included in her memoir. It documents Sanlo’s personal journey while chronicling Florida’s history of anti-gay legislation dating back to the Johns Committee in the 1950s, which persecuted gay and lesbian students and faculty at Florida public schools and colleges. The film also depicts Sanlo’s heartwarming reunion with her now-adult children and grandchildren.

“If we don’t document our own history, it will be lost,” said Sanlo, who frequently conducts writing workshops that help LGBTQ people write their stories. “I want my children and grandchildren to know they can live their lives freely because we walked before them—and many of us died before them. If we don’t write our own history, our young people will never know on whose shoulders they stand.”

 

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Expert to Lead Planning for LGBTQ Center

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Expert to Lead Planning for LGBTQ Center


UM News

Sanlo

Ronni Sanlo

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 3, 2016)—The University of Miami has announced that it will increase the resources available to support students of all gender identities and sexual orientations by establishing a dedicated center on campus. To plan the scope of what the center should offer, the University has engaged Ronni Sanlo, a foremost expert on LGBTQ issues in the realm of higher education, to conduct a series of meetings to create strategic plans for the UM center.

A forum for UM students will take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16. The next day, Wednesday, February 17, Sanlo will lead a daylong strategic-planning session with the UM community, including faculty, staff, and alumni. To participate, register by Friday, February 12. The planning session will be followed on Wednesday, February 17 by Letters to Anita, the award-winning documentary about Sanlo, who lost custody of her children after she came out as a lesbian. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. screening, which takes place at UM’s Cosford Cinema.

“Dr. Sanlo is one of higher education’s most sough-after experts on LGBTQ issues,” said Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “I am delighted she has accepted our invitation to join us at UM as we seek to create a truly first-rate and inclusive LGBTQ Center.”

A Miami Beach native who formerly served as an HIV/AIDS epidemiologist for the Florida Health Department, Sanlo is the director emeritus of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at UCLA, where she served as the senior associate dean of students and professor/director of the UCLA Masters of Education in Student Affairs.

She previously served on the higher education faculty at California State University Fullerton, and as director of the University of Michigan LGBT Center.

Sanlo is the founding chair of the Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals, and is the originator of the award-winning Lavender Graduation commencement event, which the University of Miami first held in 2015.

The screening of Letters to Anita at the Cosford Cinema is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required by February 12. Sanlo will be on hand to answer questions following the film.

For more information, email lgbtq@miami.edu.

 

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Gender-Neutral Restrooms Identified


By Meredith Camel
UM News

Click on map for larger view.

Click on map for larger view.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 15, 2015)—The restroom is one place most people expect to feel safe. Yet all across the nation, transgender people—whose biological sex does not match their gender identity—report being harassed in public facilities because they are perceived as being in the “wrong” restroom. The University of Miami has taken a very key step toward ensuring that people of all gender identities and expressions have access to a safe, comfortable environment when nature calls.

This summer, the University’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) task force surveyed more than 100 single-stall restrooms on the Coral Gables and Rosenstiel School campuses. Signs are now posted on 12 bathrooms on the Coral Gables campus to identify them as either “gender-neutral” or “inclusive,” with signs forthcoming at the Rosenstiel School. Both signs identify single-stall restrooms, but the “inclusive” sign means the restroom is also ADA compliant and suitable for families.

“It’s important that we give everyone, no matter their gender, the opportunity to be their authentic selves while using the restroom,” said Andrew Wiemer, director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, who spearheads the LGBTQ task force along with Gail Cole-Avent, executive director for student life and assessment initiatives. “We made sure the gender neutral and inclusive bathrooms are spread out, so no matter where you are on campus, you have a restroom that you feel comfortable using.”

“This is about safety,” said junior Jeremy Penn, the president of the LGBTQ student group SpectrUM who is majoring in ecosystem science and policy, applied physics, and geography. “And safety is subjective. For some people, glares and stares are no big deal because they’re used to it. For others it can be incredibly overwhelming.”

Penn was among the more than 60 UM community members who signed a petition in April to oppose Florida House Bill 583, which would have made it illegal to use a bathroom that does not match your legal gender. The bill didn’t pass, but others like it are popping up in states across the country. As UM’s petition stated, HB 583 would have taught people “to fear and monitor gender nonconforming and transgender people even more than they already do…We, a group of concerned faculty, staff, and students, believes that this bill stands in direct opposition to many of the University of Miami’s core values, including diversity, integrity, compassion, and responsibility.”

These are the same values driving the University’s ongoing efforts to build resources for LGBTQ students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The miami.edu/lgbtq website, launched earlier this year, provides details about LGBTQ-related programs and initiatives available to the UM community, including a map of all gender-neutral and inclusive restrooms on the Coral Gables campus. The website is updated as new resources are introduced.

Penn said the gender-neutral bathroom signage “shows the University is being proactive in protecting its transgender and gender-nonconforming students.” But he also stressed the importance of continuing the progress.

“It’s important that we finish the current task force initiatives one by one to form a ceiling, but that ceiling must become the floor to the next level.”

 

 

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LGBTQ-Ally Mentorship Program Seeks Mentors


As the new academic year begins, UM LGBTQ Student Life is preparing for the second year of its LGBTQ-Ally Mentorship Program, which pairs lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning University of Miami students with LGBTQ or ally faculty and staff members who serve as mentors throughout the academic year. The program is currently seeking mentors who are eager to help students navigate the various aspects of their personal, academic, and professional lives.

Several first-year LGBTQ students have entered the University of Miami this year, joining returning LGBTQ students. In order to successfully accommodate all students who apply, the LGBTQ-Ally Mentorship Program needs your assistance. If you have a few hours a month to meet with a student and provide support and guidance, then you are the kind of person the program is seeking. This is a great opportunity to get actively engaged with the University’s student population and help create a more inclusive campus.

If you are interested, please complete the application. For more information about this and other opportunities for LGBTQ ’Canes and allies, visit miami.edu/lgbtq.

 

 

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Proudly Out and Online

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Proudly Out and Online


LGBTQ AlliesThe World Wide Web made its public debut in 1991—the same year the GLBC became the University of Miami’s first official group for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. The Internet has grown exponentially over the last 24 years, and so has the University’s commitment to supporting members of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. New to the Web this fall is miami.edu/lgbtq, featuring information on programs, events, and campus resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students. The site also includes a link to the IBIS (I Believe in Solidarity) Ally Network, a group of UM faculty, staff, and students who completed an intensive training session on ways to help LGBTQ students thrive on campus. Miami.edu/lgbtq is the first online resource dedicated to serving the needs of our LGBTQ ’Canes and allies.

 

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